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You Need Big Bandwidth for Big Data
Is yesterday’s bandwidth keeping you from becoming tomorrow’s high performance company?

By: John Shepler

Bandwidth levels are growing almost exponentially. One of the major infrastructure build-outs underway is a move to 100 Gbps or 100 GigE wavelength service on cross-country and international routes. It seems that Gigabit Ethernet was introduced only a few years ago and thought impractical for all but the most demanding business applications. Now GigE is almost considered entry level in some quarters. What could possibly be behind this massive increase in bandwidth demand?

It All Started With Video
It is said that most of the world’s Internet traffic is now video. That’s right, not telephone calls, not file transfers, not even big graphics. Video alone is sucking up as much bandwidth as it can get. That’s not likely to change, either. SD video has migrated to HD video and 4K video is well on the way. How soon will the marketplace demand 8K video across the board?

Every increase in pixel density cranks up the bandwidth requirement to transport high quality images. Compression can help a great deal, but there’s a tradeoff between picture quality and depth of compression. Broadcasters and video producers really want to transport uncompressed video and leave the compression artifacts to be dealt with in the final link to the consumer.

Send In The Clouds
When cloud services meant taking all night to back up the day's files as a contingency to local storage, bandwidth levels weren’t too demanding. That’s all changed. The cloud is no longer just a non-critical backup service. It’s the main data center for many companies.

What’s sometimes forgotten is that your WAN (Wide Area Network) bandwidth becomes far more critical when key processes move to the cloud. Networking is much easier and cheaper when you’re talking about hundreds of feet within your own facilities. When you have to take that same flood of traffic and send it over a common carrier to get to your remote data center or cloud provider, line demands go way up. Remember, the WAN used to be just to link facilities and for communication with the outside world. Now it’s the main artery for everything you do.

What that means is that WAN bandwidth demands jump by 10, 100 or 1000 times. Other characteristics, like jitter, latency and packet loss, become huge factors in how well your cloud processes perform. If you scrimp in any of these areas, you may find yourself frustrated by underperforming processes and even losing productivity instead of gaining efficiency.

You Think the Internet of People Is Demanding?
Online business applications are generating more and more interesting and potentially useful data. Mobile apps with location services fall into this category. Pretty much anything that you do online has some potential value in customizing services or creating statistical data to improve marketing. That’s a flood of data that has to be handled by wireless and fiber connections.

Human generated big data is nothing compared to what we’ll be dealing with when the Internet of Things (IoT) gets rolling. For every person online, there will be dozens, hundreds or even thousands of “things” chatting wildly and generating volumes of data that would be useful if it could only get where it can be analyzed and put to use. That’s going to multiply the load on every communications channel.

Will they be able to handle it? Not with yesterday’s creaky links. Everything will need an upgrade. It’s in process now. Wireless channels are being expanded as fast as they can be rounded up and auctioned. Current 4G standards will become 5G and then 6G before you know it. But, what about terrestrial lines?

Fortunately, the bandwidth of fiber optic cables is nearly limitless from our current point of view. The 1 to 10 Gbps or so capacity of each strand can be multiplied by multiplexing dozens to hundreds of wavelengths. Wavelengths can be aggregated to create larger services of 100 Gbps and beyond. The build buildout now is 100 Gbps. Soon that will be 400 Gbps and then 1 Tbps, and it will happen sooner that we think.

Is yesterday’s bandwidth keeping you from becoming tomorrow’s high performance company? You should know that bandwidth prices have been falling almost as fast as demand has been increasing. The bandwidth upgrade you need may fit well within your budget. Want to find out? Get prices and availability on high performance fiber optic bandwidth services now.

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